Cotton v. Personnel Director, City of Meriden
Because town respondents failed to prove that they reviewed requested personnel records to determine whether they reasonably believed that their disclosure would constitute an invasion of privacy prior to notifying the employees involved of the request for such records, the respondents violated C.G.S. §1-214(b). Eric Cotton and the Meriden Record Journal appealed to the Freedom of Information Commission alleging that the City of Meriden's personnel director and chief of police violated the Freedom of Information Act by denying their request for access to the personnel files of Officers Donald Huston and Brian Sullivan. The respondents denied the request based on Sullivan objecting to the release of records pertaining to his driving while intoxicated arrest and discipline and Huston objecting to the release of all personnel records. The FOIC found that respondents' counsel notified the officers that he would not be representing their interests at the hearing and that they should attend if they wished to be heard. Neither officer moved to intervene in this matter and neither appeared at the hearing to offer evidence as to why the disclosure of their records would legally constitute an invasion of their privacy. Thus, the respondents failed to prove that the records at issue were exempt from disclosure pursuant to C.G.S. §1-210(b)(2). Additionally, the respondents offered no evidence at the hearing that they reviewed the contested records to determine whether they reasonably believed that their disclosure would constitute an invasion of privacy, prior to notifying the officers of the records request, as required by C.G.S. §1-214(b). The FOIC concluded that the respondents violated C.G.S. §1-210(a), §1-212(a) and §1-214(b). The respondents were ordered to provide the complainants with a free copy of the requested records with home addresses, social security numbers and any tax return information that may appear in the records redacted.